Clarita Carlos advises ‘critical engagement’ with China on West Philippine Sea

Clarita Carlos advises �critical engagement� with China on West Philippine Sea
Photo shows professor Clarita Carlos speaking at the SMNI Presidential Debates on February 15, 2022.
Screengrab / SMNI News on YouTube

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 5:11 p.m.) — Retired political science professor Clarita Carlos, who has been named the next national security advisor, said that the country should maintain its “critical” stance on the maritime dispute 

Carlos accepted the offer of president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Wednesday evening and will be taking the post over from former armed forces chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. 

She discussed “wide-ranging issue areas” with Marcos Jr., including how the country would navigate its relations with China on the waters, which had been a subject of a territorial dispute.

“Critical engagement with China would be the way to go and [president-elect] Marcos [Jr.] noted that it will still be enhanced on all levels,” Carlos told GMA News’ “Unang Hirit” on Thursday.

One of the issues that the next administration would have to tackle is its strategy when it comes to asserting the country’s rights in the West Philippine Sea. 

While a 2016 Hague tribunal already ruled in favor of the Philippines, China refuses to honor the document that invalidates Beijing’s so-called nine-dash line over the South China Sea.

In an interview with select media two weeks ago, Marcos Jr. said that the Philippines will “continue to assert” its rights over the West Philippine Sea.” 

READ: 'We can't go to war with China': Marcos echoes Duterte on West Philippine Sea

Meanwhile, Carlos said she also hopes to tackle the different aspects of human security, such as food, energy, and economic security, as national security adviser. She emphasized that she would zoom in on the aspects that every individual would have to face daily.

"National security is human security, what is threatening your life… right now, the contested South China Sea is the last thing on your mind, so is the Quad. Too far away from your existence from day to day," Carlos said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Carlos was referring to the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue among the United States, India, Australia and Japan meant to check China's influence in the region.


For counterinsurgency, Carlos said she would prefer to look at the cause of the problem.

"Let’s put our energy on the operational aspects of really looking at the roots of insurgency, [the] lack of opportunity, injustice that has yet to be addressed. That’s where we should look at, the negotiation has already been done," she said.

Carlos' views are "a step in the right direction", Sen. Leila De Lima, a vocal critic of the Duterte administration, said shortly after Carlos' interview.

"We hope that the government will always remember that the fight against insurgency is not a fight against truth-seekers and human rights defenders; and by addressing its root causes instead of red-tagging people, our hopes are high that we can win the fight against insurgency," De Lima said in a statement on Thursday.

As NSA, Carlos would also sit as vice-chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, which has been subjected to calls for dissolution due to its history of red-tagging. 

Its spokesman, Presidential Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy, and other others have multiple administrative complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman for red-tagging.

Carlos will also be given a vice-chairperson position at the Anti-Terrorism Council, which can authorize the detention of suspected terrorists and allow their prolonged detention.  — Kaycee Valmonte with reports from Kristine Joy Patag, Patricia Lourdes Viray and The STAR / Alexis Romero

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